6 Diet Foods for Lasting Energy: Low Calorie, High Energy Foods For Weight Loss

Learn 6 amazing foods to boost your energy level without caffeine.

When you’re on a diet, keeping your energy up is both essential and difficult. Most dieters are spending extra energy at the gym or on other workouts, even though they’re taking in fewer calories.

The easy solution is to turn to caffeinated beverages like energy drinks or diet sodas. But, these energy sources often pack in calories, artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that can pose long-term health risks.

Luckily, energy-hungry dieters don’t have to drink caffeine or other stimulants to stay energized. Eating any of these 6 diet foods for lasting energy will give you both the energy and the nutrients you need to keep your weight loss on track.

1. Melons

According to a 2012 Journal of Nutrition study, staying hydrated is essential to maintaining mental focus, energy, and mood. [1] Eat melons to keep your hydration at its peak while still satisfying your taste buds. Water-rich melons like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon offer a great source for hydration.

Melons also hold huge amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. These nutrients contribute to melons’ energy-boosting effects. For example, cells use vitamin A to create ATP, the body’s primary energy molecule. Vitamin A deficiencies can decrease energy production by up to 30 percent. [2]

2. Spinach

Spinach provides a natural energy boost thanks to its high iron content. Iron carries oxygen into cells and removes leftover carbon dioxide from cells, both of which keep your body operating at peak energy efficiency. Increasing the amount of iron in your diet is an excellent way to decrease fatigue. [3]

How much iron your digestive system absorbs from spinach depends on how you prepare it. Raw spinach contains oxalic acid, which decreases iron absorption. Hence, 1 cup raw spinach provides less than 1 mg of iron. But, cooked spinach contains 6 or more mg. [4]

3. Salmon

In addition to being one of the best sources of healthy omega 3s, salmon is rich in several energy-enhancing B vitamins. Salmon’s main B vitamins are pyridoxine, riboflavin and niacin. All B vitamins take part in converting glucose into ATP. [6] B vitamins also enhance central nervous system function and encourage red blood cell production. [7] Plus, salmon contains plenty of phosphorus, a major component in ATP.

But, salmon enhances energy with more than just its vitamin content. A 200 gram salmon fillet holds nearly 40 grams of protein. [5] Salmon’s high protein content also satisfies the appetite and provides amino acids for building muscle.

4. Quinoa

Recently, the media has labeled carbohydrates as the antagonist of any weight loss plan. No matter what you’ve read or heard, not all carbs are created equal.

If you’re trying to incorporate carbs without adding excessive calories, look no further than quinoa. This gluten-free, grain-like seed is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, earning it the status of “superfood.” [9]

Just a 1 cup serving of quinoa contains nearly 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. [8] And, since quinoa is a complex carb, its protein and fiber content digests slowly to help you stay feeling full for a longer period of time. Consequently, quinoa provides sustained energy for several hours.

5. Almonds

With almonds, even a few can have a big impact on your energy level. Almonds are rich in magnesium, copper, and manganese, three nutrients that contribute to how the body makes and uses energy. Magnesium, in particular, participates in numerous reactions—so many that a slight dip in magnesium can be the difference between fatigue and fabulous. [10]

Raw, unsalted almonds are make a quick snack to boost your energy level without breaking your diet. Other options include adding a few slivered almonds to a salad or substituting almond butter for the traditional peanut butter.

Keep in mind almonds, like all nuts, are high in fat. Even so, a 1 ounce serving contains plenty of nutritional value.

6. Edamame

Edamame combines the high-protein, high-fiber content of quinoa with the vitamin B benefits of salmon. Edamame also features many of the same essential nutrients as almonds and spinach. Therefore, edamame offers the same long-lasting energy benefits as those foods while still being incredibly diet friendly. This versatile soybean pod is great as a snack, side dish, or salad component.

One vitamin abundantly present in edamame is folate. Also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, folate works with iron and vitamin B12 to make strong red blood cells. [11] This in turn has a direct impact on the body’s energy availability. Thus, eating a serving of edamame regularly is a great way to guard against low folic acid levels, which are fairly common. [11]

Incorporate these 6 diet foods for lasting energy into your weight loss plan, and you’ll find yourself triply satisfied. You’ll stay filled on fewer calories, feel energized all day long, and be gleeful about your disappearing pounds. You may even find yourself asking why you weren’t enjoying their energy-enhancing benefits years ago.


[1] Armstrong, Lawrence E., Matthew S. Ganio, et al. “Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women.” The Journal of Nutrition. 142.2 (2012): 382-88.

[2] Acin-Perez, R, B Hoyos, et al. “Control of oxidative phosphorylation by vitamin A illuminates a fundamental role in mitochondrial energy homeostasis.” FASEB Journal. 24.2 (2010): 627-36.

[3] Verdon, F, B Burnand, et al. “Iron supplementation for unexplained fatigue in non-anaemic women: double blind randomized placebo controlled trial.” British Medical Journal. 326 (2003): 1124.

[4] Tsang, Gloria. “Is Spinach a Good Source of Iron? Is Cooked Better Than Raw?” HealthCastle.com. 2012 Nov 16.

[5] USDA National Nutrient Database. “Nutrient data for 15076, Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw.”

[6] Dennett, Carrie. “Vitamin B for energy? Not so fast.” The Seattle Times. 2012 Oct 8.

[7] Lawson, Willow. “Vitamin B: A Key to Energy.” Psychology Today. 2003 Apr 2.

[8] USDA National Nutrient Database. “Nutrient data for 20137, Quinoa, cooked.”

[9] Whole Grains Council. “Health Benefits of Quinoa.” WholeGrainsCouncil.org.

[10] Bouchez, Collette. “Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Energy.” WebMD.com. 2009 Jul 20.

[11] “Vitamin B9 (Folic acid).” University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011.

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